This morning, steam room chat at my Y, headlines and news generally taken together with conversations in recent days leave me feeling compelled to write this … about oil prices, fear about housing and commercial real estate valuations. And headlines, headlines, headlines.
A generation ago (perhaps longer) we in Alberta enjoyed a period of difficulty, strife and torture upon individuals and businesses that is still not fondly remembered, characterized by these letters: NEP(the national energy policy program of the Pierre Trudeau government).
About 2/3rds of Albertans working today were not born yet, or had not finished school or were not living here in those days, early 80s, when last we had horrible collisions of pink-slips, red-ink and chicken-shite-bankers pulling rugs from under so many lives …
Fear and hype tend to take on lives of their own.
People react in knee-jerk fashion emotionally even if you can’t see their knees moving … like ventriloquists, lots going on when lips aren’t moving.
Smartest wizards get it wrong sometimes. Warren Buffett says, “when the tide goes out you find out who has been swimming naked.” … which is not to say he’s been visiting nude beaches.
Best medicine – keep some powder dry, don’t take on new debt. Better medicine – keep the economy sound by making only smart moves, stimulate the economy with your Christmas shopping (fill malls with people, empty stores of merchandise) and invest wisely. Hard work, thrift and determination get most of us through most difficulties – and sometimes that means we have to bend down to help someone who has fallen, steady the hand we’ve just shaken and smile more to show a steady grin in the face of our challenges and adversaries.
Survival and toughness – reliance is endemic here whether or not your DNA boasts a prairie pioneer pedigree.
We are in this together.
While many in other parts of this continent are gloating a little over lower prices at the pump, to heat homes or dreams of lower airfares, the truth is that reality hitting home comes in two forms – emotional impact of fear (usually the hardest) and the impact of reality (usually not as severe as feared).
In the 80s I was early 30’, going strong and oblivious to a new-reality until it was suddenly my reality. I didn’t handle it well. The 90s, that after-math, turned out to be pretty good. I learned, as did so many, that success can follow failure in collapse, that not giving up or giving in are worthy virtues. Times, tough ones, visit everyone sooner or later – like economic cycles, commodity cycles and wheels on the bus – go ’round and ’round.
If you aren’t moving, things won’t change much.
If you aren’t relying on someone else spending or investing, things won’t change much.
If you are whipsawed by factors you can’t control – then control what you can, do more with less and hang on for a bumpy ride.
Bumpy rides at a carnival can be a lot of fun. Bumpy rides in life – in the economy, in our financial lives, our relationships – not usually fun for most riders, but if you hang on tight and keep believing in yourself, the ride will come to a stop. Some will collapse and not finish the journey. Some will hunker down and survive. Some will thrive.
Which will we be?
Most of us don’t sit anywhere near the levers of power and control over tiniest segments of the economy (right now I suspect Saudi princes aren’t feeling so sure of themselves either) or have sufficient wisdom or free cash to place gutsy bets in this geo-political poker game without even a house-always-wins element – only widespread fears it is a lose-lose proposition for everyone.
Of course it isn’t. In a trading economy, in the wired-economy we have today – there will be winners, not just losers. There will be new businesses emerging from ashes of old ones, as there will be surprising new ones that leave us all asking ‘now why didn’t I think of that?’
Young folks haven’t had their first down-cycle, and those of us on the other end of the time-continuum might wonder how many more we can work through, recover from and thrive again. What we are certain of – and can perhaps offer to our younger friends as they grapple with the grappling, is that there is something we can all do about it.
Here it is …
Our mindset is the one thing only each person has control over.
I control my mindset.
You control yours.
Let us not lose control over our mindset. Then, if/when our lives feel like we are shooting rapids in an impossible deadly river, we can at least try to steer in some direction we feel confident in when the time seems right. Not from the shore. Not from eddy or backwater, but from being steady-minded while we are in the middle of the impossible but highly probably turbulence.
Or be tossed around by the tides.
Nobody else can, or will, so we all need to be ready in advance to come to our own aid …
column written/ published from Calgary, AB
morning walk: 7C/44F, strong breeze, nearly full moon – and the fresh humid feeling of a spring morning but missing the daylight. Gusta sniffing rabbit trails and startling a couple (they look so vulnerable in their white coats now that all the snow has melted!)
Hi Mark,Thanks for lovely message! Enjoy the holidays and all the best in 2015, DL, Calgary, AB
Thank you for your Christmas message, it was very heartfelt. I have a friend who does Angel Readings if you would like to contact your loved ones she is booking into the new year. Let me know.Namaste, CH, Calgary, AB
Thanks Mark. Great to hear that you summarize the year as a happy year. Wish you health and happiness for the coming year and may all your dreams come true, CG, Cobourg, ON
Happy Holidays to you too, Mark. Wish you all the best!, VH, Helmville, MT
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